There were conflicting reports over the past week about who would be the most important wide-receiver the Eagles needed to re-sign. It was thought that Jeremy Maclin was the bigger target over Riley Cooper. However, it was Cooper that got the contract first. Cooper signed a five-year, $25 million extension on Thursday while center Jason Kelce signed his six-year, $37.5 million extension. Cooper is guaranteed $10 million while Kelce is guaranteed $13 million.
Behind Maclin, DeSean Jackson and Jason Avant during the 2012 season, Cooper only had 23 receptions on 47 targets for 248 yards as well as three touchdowns. After being promoted to the second starting wide out before the season began, Cooper was one of Nick Foles' favorite targets this season. Foles threw in Cooper's direction 84 times and Cooper came down with 47 catches for 835 yards. He also had eight touchdowns and 33 first down receptions. Cooper certainly earned himself an extension with his performance this past season, but Cooper needs come out strong again this season in order to prove he was worth the money.
The deal that everyone expected came Friday afternoon as wide receiver Jeremy Maclin signed a one-year "prove it" deal worth $5.5 million with $3.5 million guaranteed. There are performance incentives included in the deal which would raise the total to $6 million.
Maclin missed the entire 2013 season after tearing an ACL in training camp. Soon after that, the Eagles lost Arrelious Benn and that was when Cooper was promoted to the second starting wide out. During the 2012 season, Maclin was targeted 122 times and he came away with 69 receptions. He had 857 yards and seven touchdowns.
Center Jason Kelce just finished his third season with the Eagles. He missed the entire 2012 season due to a torn ACL and MCL in his right knee. The injury occurred in the second game of the 2012 season. He took back his starting role on the offensive line in a new scheme brought in by a new head coach. Kelce helped lead the Eagles offensive line back to dominance as the offense had a record-setting year.
NON-FREE AGENT SIGNING
Another member of the offensive line earned an extension earlier this week as well. With a year remaining on his current contract, left tackle Jason Peters was given a four-year extension. The new five-year deal is worth $51.3 million and Peters is guaranteed $19.55 million. Peters suffered two Achilles injuries over the past couple of years and he came back strong this year to help anchor the offensive line alongside Kelce. His veteran leadership is something the offensive line needed to keep around especially after he battled through nagging injuries this past season and played in every game. His performance this year earned him his sixth trip to the Pro Bowl. However, he declined to go to the Pro Bowl with his reason most likely being that he needed to rest and heal his injuries.
Bringing Kelce back and extending Peters was the best thing the Eagles could do to the offensive line this offseason. The offensive line performed much better this season than it has in the previous ones. Considering that the Eagles had a record-setting offensive year, extending Kelce and Peters keeps the core of the offensive line intact and provides Nick Foles the protection he needs.
The Eagles have now locked up three of their free agents and will likely lock Maclin up for the long-term toward the end of the 2014 season. With Maclin back this season, Nick Foles will have him, Jackson and Cooper as his main targets. Things are certainly going to be interesting this season because we can finally see Chip Kelly's offense with Maclin in it and Foles starting every game.
Tags: Eagles, Football, free agents, Jason Kelce, Jeremy Maclin, NFL, Philadelphia, Philadelphia Eagles, Riley Cooper